Posts tagged "The NY TImes"
Apocalyptic Box Offices and Sanctified Darwinism

Apocalyptic Box Offices and Sanctified Darwinism

A thought-provoking if fairly depressing essay from Steve Almond appeared in the NY Times Magazine last week, “The Apocalypse Market Is Booming.” As anyone with a television will tell you, in the years since we last checked in on this trend in any substantial way, the amount of eschatalogical fantasies being peddled by Hollywood has only ballooned. In fact, this past summer it almost seemed as if there were more apocalypse-themed movies at the multiplex than non-apocalypse-themed ones (World War Z, Oblivion, After Earth, This Is The End, The World’s End, etc). But Almond goes beyond the usual analyses, theorizing…

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Binging on Bags of Popcorn, or Misadventures in Hate-Viewing (and Reading)

Binging on Bags of Popcorn, or Misadventures in Hate-Viewing (and Reading)

A pretty relevant article appeared in The NY Times the other day on the phenomenon of “hate-reading/-watching”, courtesy of novelist Teddy Wayne. Not much to say on the subject that we haven’t said elsewhere, either when asking why we’re so obsessed with that person from sixth grade or contemplating “87 percent of our mental life.” Suffice it to say, the (short-lived) self-esteem boost we get from gaping in disbelief at the unenlightened online or on cable or in a tabloid is the inverse of the self-recrimination we feel when looking at those who seem to have it all together in…

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Marital Expectations and Baby Bottle Cleanliness

Marital Expectations and Baby Bottle Cleanliness

“I have waited my whole life to be oppressed” admits Lynn Messina in the opening line of her incredible Modern Love column that appeared in the Times this past Sunday. In “Chained to Hearth or Warmed by It?” she comes clean about the ramifications that her yearning for victimhood–or predilection for self-pity (aka justification by suffering)–has had in her relationship with her husband. But it is also a story of grace triumphing over law in a very visceral sense. Some might say the writing is on the wall when Lynn describes her pre-parenthood agreement with her husband, Chris. Because he…

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We’ve Only Just Begun? The Law of Legacy and the Club of Hundred

We’ve Only Just Begun? The Law of Legacy and the Club of Hundred

The other day, I was asked a question that I dread. We were talking about Mockingbird, but the query would have inspired just as much trepidation if it had been concerned with my parenting or marriage. I was asked what success might look like. I’ll spare you my answer (which wasn’t really an answer). The exchange brought to mind an enlightening and brief essay that appeared in The NY Times a couple of weeks ago, Phillip Lopate’s “Midlist Crisis”, in which he laments his station as good-but-not-great writer, someone who has experienced a fair amount success but never that one…

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Wheels of Worry, Everyday Trauma, and the First Day of School

Wheels of Worry, Everyday Trauma, and the First Day of School

“Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder… One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. Our world is unstable and unpredictable, and operates, to a great degree and despite incredible scientific advancement, outside our ability to…

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Another Week Ends: A-n-x-i-e-t-y, Assurance, and the Post-Apocalypse

Another Week Ends: A-n-x-i-e-t-y, Assurance, and the Post-Apocalypse

1) As if teenage parenting isn’t hard enough, Huffpost’s recent, “What Really Happens on a Teen Girl’s Smartphone” uncovers a whole new world of social cues for teens to follow in the digital age. It’s more than the simple “Thou Shalt Have an iPhone,” though that’s certainly part of it. It’s a life lived for likes, favorites, and retweets- social pressure and conformance anxiety abuzz in one’s front pocket:

“Not having an iPhone can be social suicide, notes Casey. One of her friends found herself effectively exiled from their circle for six months because her…

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Another Week Ends: Forgiveness, Giving Trees, Therapists, and Aging with Grace

Another Week Ends: Forgiveness, Giving Trees, Therapists, and Aging with Grace

1. Forgiveness and apology seems to be a theme in the news as of late, or at least it was prior to Monday’s heartbreaking news from Boston. CNN’s belief blog highlighted the story of one man’s quest to forgive and restore the man who killed his brother when they were teens. I found the story enlightening as it ping-ponged between the two poles of forgiveness by grace (the victim’s brother) and forgiveness by works righteousness (the recently released killer). Quote: “I think for me, forgiveness will come in doing good works, trying to help others. But as far as forgiving…

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Another Week Ends: Schismogenesis, Megachurch Funerals, Accidental Theology, Smartphone Shrinks, Mean Professors, Nocebos, Zooropa and Elysium

Another Week Ends: Schismogenesis, Megachurch Funerals, Accidental Theology, Smartphone Shrinks, Mean Professors, Nocebos, Zooropa and Elysium

1. The NY Times published a wise op-ed from sociologist Tanya Luhrmann this past week on the the subject of “How Skeptics and Believers Can Connect”. She begins the column by recounting a disconcerting experience she had promoting her terrific book, When God Talks Back, on a Christian radio station. Luhrmann does not self-identify as a Christian, which the host of the show apparently took as a cue to berate her into converting on air (rather than dig into a book that has quite a bit of sympathetic material to relate). Now, God only knows what exactly the motivation/justification at…

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Psychopharmacology Nightmares and the Sanctuary Model

Psychopharmacology Nightmares and the Sanctuary Model

In an enticingly titled NY Times op-ed “Diagnosis: Human” this past week, Harvard ethicist Ted Gup warned of the dangers of approaching our problems in an overly/exclusively pharmaceutical fashion. The temptation with certain types of psychotropic drugs being that they will serve as quick-fix band-aids rather than as part of an actual cure, and in doing so, they may even backfire. Part of his concern has to do with what he sees as the fallout of prescription-happy doctors when it comes to the diagnosing of boys with ADD/ADHD. You’ll have to read the whole article to understand just how deep…

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Don’t Choke on Your Scarf!

Don’t Choke on Your Scarf!

It’s always amusing to see religious insights about human behavior expressed in management-speak, which is happened precisely in The NY Times this past Saturday, in their interview with David Rock, the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute. The acronym Mr. Rock uses to describe the in’s and out’s of motivation is SCARF, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. For those keeping score at home, SCARF is basically shorthand for we mean when we talk about Original Sin, i.e. you could almost substitute Self-Justification for Status, Bondage for Certainty, Control for Autonomy, Exclusivity/Scapegoating for Relatedness, and Judgment for Fairness…

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Another Week Ends: Recovering Francis, Present Shock, Silicon Valley Solutionists vs Pessimistic Germans, Internal Gutters, The Pull, iPhone Police and Steve Brown

Another Week Ends: Recovering Francis, Present Shock, Silicon Valley Solutionists vs Pessimistic Germans, Internal Gutters, The Pull, iPhone Police and Steve Brown

1. Not knowing much (at all) about Pope Francis, maybe you were as pleasantly surprised as I was to read David Brooks’ irenic column about “How Movements Recover”, in which he articulated a philosophy and approach quite near and dear to this mocking-heart:

Augustine [of Hippo], as his magisterial biographer Peter Brown puts it, “was deeply preoccupied by the idea of the basic unity of the human race.” He reacted against any effort to divide people between those within the church and those permanently outside. He wanted the church to go on offense and swallow the world. This would involve swallowing…

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God Save Us From The Nasty Effect

God Save Us From The Nasty Effect

A very interesting and close-to-home article appeared in The NY Times recently, “This Story Stinks”, in which Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele relay some findings from a report published last month in The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (!) about the so-called “nasty effect” that afflicts online culture. Specifically, the comments sections one finds on blogs and online publications such as this one. How do insulting and ad hominem comments affect the way we process information? You probably already know, but suffice it to say, the answers are not encouraging. In a sentence: “Uncivil comments not only polariz[e] readers, but they…

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Another Week Ends: Miracle Baskets, Doubtful Essays, Optimism vs Quitting, Paternalism, Secret Menus, Netflix Puppetry, Bowie and Mats Return, and Hathaway Haters

Another Week Ends: Miracle Baskets, Doubtful Essays, Optimism vs Quitting, Paternalism, Secret Menus, Netflix Puppetry, Bowie and Mats Return, and Hathaway Haters

1. In need of a little (heart)warming on a cold winter’s day? Look no further than the spontaneous act of mercy that occurred on a high school basketball court in Texas last month, ht JD:

2. Phillip Lopate ponders the declining place of Doubt in an essay for The NY Times, evidence perhaps of deeper denials, ht SY:

Despite periodic warnings of the essay’s demise, the stuff does continue to be published; if anything, the essay has experienced a slight resurgence of late. I wonder if that may be because it is attuned to the current mood, speaks to the present moment….

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Valentines Extravaganza: Tortoise Love, Tender Paper Planes, Taylor Swift B-Sides, Co-Dependent Pixels, and Ryan’s Rescue

Valentines Extravaganza: Tortoise Love, Tender Paper Planes, Taylor Swift B-Sides, Co-Dependent Pixels, and Ryan’s Rescue

1. A touching installment of Modern Love appeared in The NY Times, Caroline Leavitt’s “My Touchstone and a Heart of Gold.” It’s a story of judgment and love and pet turtles, not to mention the difference between loving a person for who you’d like them to be/who you think they should be vs. who they actually are, foibles and eccentricities included:

The more time I spent discovering the tortoise [Minnie], the more my boyfriend uncovered things about me he didn’t like. My friends were now too loud, and why couldn’t I trade my jeans for something more feminine, with a…

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Assisted Living and the Lost Art of Dying

Assisted Living and the Lost Art of Dying

Did you see Tim Kreider’s straight-shooting entry in the NY Times’ Anxiety series, “You Are Going to Die”? Kreider exposes a few of the predominant illusions that we embrace as a culture/species when it comes to dying, and while none of it may exactly be breaking news (or a laugh riot), his candor is deeply refreshing. It should come as no surprise that our hardwiring for control informs both of the top entries on the list: 1. the necessity to conceive of our life as a self-propelled narrative of progress (law) and 2. the absurd but no less widespread fallacy…

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